Pilot Candidate Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Pilot Candidate

Pilot Candidate Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     June 17, 2002
Release Date: January 08, 2002


Pilot Candidate Vol. #2
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
Now that they've witnessed a battle firsthand, the training for the Pilot Candidates begins. Zero and the others are introduced to the Repairer Candidates, who will serve as their partners. The pilots fly the machines, and the Repair Candidates keep them in good condition. Zero and his new partner, the cat-eared girl Kizuna, will have to work together - but how long will this partnership last?

The Review!
For various reasons, we had something like an eight month gap between watching the first volume and the second volume. Strangely, with that much time passing, I found myself less bothered by the show itself.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. This presented us with a bit of a problem this time, as the subtitles supplied on the disc are actually dubtitles (subtitles listing exactly what the dub says). This lead to a few poorly timed areas as the English dialogue starts in a different place, sections where a line or two in Japanese wasn't translated at all or an area or two where a subtitle shows up but nobody was talking For the audio track itself, it sounded fine with no dropouts or distortions. Dialogue is very center-channel based, but the music made good use during the opening of filling the entire soundstage through both stereo speakers.

Video:
Being a very recent show, and a very CG heavy show, things looks as you'd expect here; quite good. Colors are vibrantly rendered, the animation looks slick and the darks are right on. The only problem we had with the disc is the varying amount of cross coloration. We noticed a fair amount in the shows logo alone, and a lot show sup in various areas of the show itself, such as along some characters and in some of the CG goddesses. I found myself much more bothered by the amount of cross coloration this time, particularly since it started to really blur some edges, noticeably in character designs. There's also some jaggies along some of the characters eyes at a few instances.

Packaging:
This time, it’s all about the girls. With one of the Goddesses in the background, we get a look at the five repairers who will handle duties for the men who are trying to becomine pilots. It’s a good looking cover with a nice array of colors. The back cover provides a number of screenshots melded together into a circle with a summary inside. The discs episode numbers are listed and their titles as well as volume numbering on the spine. The discs extras and production information are also listed here. The insert provides another shot of the cover while it folds open to reveal more detailed summaries of each episode and the artwork from the back cover.

Menu:
The menu system is designed similar to the goddess units, with the pod opening and then showing the menu selections across a tablet. The animation is pretty brief and runs without any problems. Accessing other menus is quick and painless and things are laid out in a nice and logical fashion.

Extras:
There’s a couple of good extras included with this release. The first is a “voice actor academy” which takes a couple of the lead voice actors and follows them through part of the production. This runs about seven minutes or so and is fairly interesting, especially if you haven’t seen many things like this before. There’s also a just under four minute director interview where he talks about the decision to do a CG show as well as comments from the special effects supervisor.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With a large break between volumes, the cumulative distaste I originally had for the show has been softened. While I still despise the dubtitles and they do continue to cause issues here with timing at certain moments, knowing that this disc was pretty much done at the time of the first made it a moot point in hoping it would be changed. If anything, I was more bothered by the growing cross coloration visible here.

The series picks up well from the previous volume, with the focus being on moving the candidates forward into their initial testing phases and then into actual training. The boys continue to be strong personalities of their own, with Zero being the extremely outgoing “Gonna win!” type. He’s also keeping his competition with Hiead going strong. Though Hiead isn’t outwardly pushing it, Zero takes every opportunity to try and out do him, from their actual testing to simple things of arriving to the lunch line first.

To balance out all this young boy testosterone, we also get to deal with five women who are being trained as Repairers. For every Goddesses pilot, there’s a woman who manages the goddess and in her own way, the pilot. Though it’s shown early here as the boys and girls team up, the pilots believe they’re the ones in charge. But you can see how easily that will change as things progress. The main one we get introduced to is Kizuna. Not only does she have the pressure of being Zero’s repairer, but she has the problem of being different than the rest, having the cat ears that she hides under her cap. Her trying to fit in is more complicated than most peoples due to this.

Throughout the shows, we follow them as they move from their regular tests to their live ones. The live ones, now involving their repairers, are done in a virtual simulation tank where they immerse themselves into the Goddesses and learn some basics. Of course, since it’s the first time in there, things are done to shake them down and get a feel for them. Zero finds himself getting a rougher time, partially because he is gifted, and must be challenged more. His instructor makes good use of his phobia of space in there being no up or down.

With these episodes focusing heavily on training and integrating the teams, I found them to be more interesting than the opening batch, which didn’t do a good job of really introducing the characters and providing their motivations. Or the layout of the universe at hand. Things get a bit more fleshed out here, but it’s the way the characters interact that kept things interesting. It’s still not a real standout show, especially with the disparity between the animation and the CG animation.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Dubtitles,Voice Actor Academy,Directors Interview

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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